General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU), Thomas says the union is in full support of the increase in the country’s minimum wage which will take effect from September 1, 2021.
Minister of National Security and Home Affairs, Rayburn Blackmoore who made the announcement last week, said the new minimum wage is in line with the current market situation and realities of Dominicans.
“I am happy and the Dominica Public Service Union is happy that the minimum wage has been increased and we believe that it is within a range where employers can afford to pay without having to send home staff and without the closure of businesses,” Letang said during a recent interview.
He continued, “The review of the wage increase is something that the Dominica Public Service Union had been really requesting for a very long time, so we were happy when a committee was established to review the minimum wage. And the committee which I was part of we met several times and it involved a lot of intensive research.”
The union boss is referring there to the tripartite committee consisting of representatives of the private sector, the government and the unions, which was set up in 2019 to review the minimum wage and to make recommendations to the minister responsible for labour. The committee presented its report to government in 2020.
He said the union is pleased that the recommendations that were submitted to the government have been accepted and approved, “and as the minister indicated the minimum wage is the lowest that should be paid or can be paid to an employee, but there is nothing wrong for somebody to pay more than the minimum wage.”
Letang pointed out that most employers in Dominica have, in fact, been paying more than the minimum wage.
“When we look at the last time there was a review one would argue that it has been a very long time,” he stated.
In anticipation of possible criticism from some people that given the last time there was a review, the revised minimum wage should be more, Letang explained that one has to take into consideration that employers’ ability to pay must be part of the discussion.
The state of the economy, he suggested, must be part of the discussion, “and you have to look at the trend of businesses; what has happened over the past few years in terms of businesses expanding or closing. All these things have to be taken into consideration.”
The new approved minimum wages for the various categories of workers are as follows:
Agricultural workers and labourers in the agricultural sector from $4.00 per hour to $7.50 per hour, daily paid workers and tourism workers from $4.50 per hour to $7.50 per hour, juveniles/trainees from $3.60 per hour to $5.67 per hour, cashiers/ receptionists from $5.50 per hour to $7.25 per hour, sales persons from $5.50 per hour to $7.25 per hour. Shop assistance from $4.50 per hour to $6.75 per hour, home assistance with meals from $125 per week to $200 per week, home assistance without meals $143.75 per week to $250 per week and living-in home assistance from $142.50 per week to $220 per week.
Minister Blackmoore has said that the new minimum wage order which covers the existing category of workers covered by the 2008 order, will be extended to include new categories.
The new categories, with the corresponding rates, include cooks, $7.25 per hour, bartenders $7.24 per hour, servers $7.24 per hour, room attendance $7.24 per hour, grounds men $7.24 per hour, public area assistance $7.24 per hour, vehicle drivers/ messengers $7.50 per hour, security guards $8.00 per hour and other unskilled workers such as labourers in the construction industry and handymen, $7.50 per hour.
The tripartite committee of which Letang was a part had recommended that a review of the minimum wage be done every three years. Backmoore has indicated that the latest review may be seen as a first step of an annual bilateral review undertaken to refine the minimum wage and to monitor the effects of the new wage.